In light of Born Digital Week, it seems appropriate to write a blog on some of the challenges we and other institutions face when it comes to looking after born-digital content. So let’s take a closer look at a born-digital item in our collection which highlights some of the processes and challenges of preserving and maintaining access to digital content.
Most of us have moved into the digital world in order to work, communicate, take photos, and generally to run our lives. But the huge storage capacity of contemporary computers and other devices, and a sense of being too busy, mean that many people have chaotic personal digital archives, disorganised and prone to accidental loss.
If our digital archivists could be angels on the shoulders of digital content creators, they would plead 4 messages.
Maps conveying news of war are as old as Ptolemy. In the second century AD, his map of the Middle East spread the news across the Empire of victory over the Judeans, and the redrawing of boundaries for the new Roman province of Syria Palestina. The map was part of an ancient media campaign to quell any similar unrest. Over many centuries since, maps have led the public war story, bringing a sense of order at home while the situation in the field was anything but.
The first Cole's Funny Picture Book was issued in Australia with great fanfare on 24 December 1879 as the ‘Cheapest Child's Picture Book ever published’ and although many hundreds of thousands of copies are said to have been sold—each for single shilling—no surviving copies are recorded. Sales were unprecedented and the book was continuously in print for a century, delighting generations of Australian children and their parents.
Pulp magazines were not designed to have long shelf lives. But in some ways this is what makes them so perfect for collection and ripe for republishing. Even when the subject matter is colonial Australia or wild-west America, the stories in Famous Detective Stories tell us much about Australia from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s; they're a snapshot of gender attitudes, race relations, city life and that generation's fears and dreams.
Artist Augustus Earle’s life was in many respects so remarkable that if it wasn’t true it would have had to be invented. Born in London in 1793, he exhibited at the Royal Academy from the age of 13 and is acknowledged as the first independent, professional artist to visit all continents. He documented his travels with candour and honesty. Loving travel and immersing himself in the worlds he encountered, he captured them in luminous watercolours.
Hidden away up on the fourth floor of the Library, the Preservation lab is always using weird and wonderful tools to undertake conservation treatment on our wide range of collection material.
On 9 July 1800, Pierce Collits was tried at the Old Bailey in London for receiving stolen goods, including muslin, lace and handkerchiefs, and sentenced to fourteen years' transportation.
On 14 December 1801, Pierce and his wife Mary, a free woman, arrived in Sydney on the Minorca. They would have endured a journey of some months on a vessel that carried both convicts and free settlers, and have landed in a colony that was only 13 years old when they arrived.
I thought writing a book about children at home during World War One would be interesting. However, as I began my research I found I was in for two shocks. The first was how little had been recorded about the lives of children during the Great War. I expected piles of books and journal articles, and I was very disappointed. Thank heavens for Trove with its vast collection of newspaper articles. Thanks, too, for the Victorian School Magazine of those years, which recorded the contribution that those kids made. Those who wrote history a hundred years ago wrote of the deeds of men.